AKRON-Reports of sales and earnings by tire-industry-related firms for the first few months of 1994 tend to support the impression that business is better this year than last. Of eight industry-related companies that have reported results thus far, six-Bandag Inc., Cooper Tire & Rubber Co., Goodyear, Myers Industries Inc., Standard Products Co. and TBC Corp.-posted both higher sales and earnings, though Standard Products noted that its Oliver Rubber Co. subsidiary posted substantially lower earnings.
Big O Tires Inc. recorded dramatically improved earnings, despite a slip in sales, while Sudbury Inc. fell deeper into the red as sales rose.
Unless otherwise noted, results reported are for the first quarter of 1994, ended March 31.
Bandag Inc.'s earnings grew 11 percent in the three months to $15.4 million, with nearly two-thirds of the increase due to the sale of a portion of the company's investment in marketable equity securities.
The Muscatine, Iowa-based firm's sales of its retreading materials and equipment advanced 4 percent to $131.6 million.
Though Big O Tires Inc.'s sales slid 2.5 percent to $26.4 million, the Englewood, Colo.-based company's net income of $205 million was more than two-and-one-half times that of the 1993 quarter.
However, the 1993 period included a loss of $285 million as the result of the cumulative effect of a change in accounting principle. Factoring that item out, Big O's income fell 43 percent.
The company, the nation's largest independent franchiser of retail tire dealerships, attributed much of the disparity to the difference in timing of major promotional activities, resulting in greater expenses in the 1994 period.
Nonetheless, ``if you were to look at the company's sales trends year-to-date, including the first two weeks of April, you would find that we are ahead of 1993,'' said President and CEO Steven P. Cloward. Gross margin and other key ratios also have steadily improved, he said.
Stronger than predicted demand for replacement passenger and truck tires helped Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. post a 17.5-percent leap in sales for the quarter to $329.1 million. Net income rose 5.2 percent to $26.5 million.
``Tire shipments are estimated to have jumped around 8 percent over the first quarter of 1993 and were much stronger than consensus forecasts,'' said Ivan W. Gorr, chairman of the Findlay, Ohio-based tire maker.
Mr. Gorr also acknowledged that some of Cooper's increased shipments in March could have been the result of customers purchasing in advance of an announced price increase of about 3 percent, which took effect April 1.
Led by strong results in the United States and Latin America, Goodyear reported record first-quarter sales as well as record income from continuing operations.
Sales reached $2.91 billion, up 3.4 percent from 1993, largely on the strength of a 4.2-percent increase in tire segment sales to $2.5 billion.
Tire unit sales climbed 7.9 percent worldwide-12.1 percent in the U.S. The fact that unit growth outpaced revenue growth reflected increased original equipment tire sales in the U.S. and Latin America and a shift to private brand and broad-market tires in the U.S. aftermarket, the company said.
Goodyear's net income surged more than a hundredfold to $116 million from $828,000 in the 1993 quarter, a period that included an $86.3 million charge for the cumulative effect of an accounting change. Without that charge, the company's income would have grown 33 percent.
Akron-based Myers Industries Inc., parent company of Myers Tire Supply and Patch Rubber Co., posted a 7-percent increase in net income to $3.5 million on a 9.7-percent improvement in sales to $59.7 million.
In Myers' case, the accounting change that reduced many other companies' first-quarter 1993 income actually contributed $210,000. Without that unusual gain, Myer's income would have grown 14.4 percent.
Earnings for Cleveland-based Standard Products Co. for the third quarter of fiscal 1994, ended March 31, grew 7.8 percent to $8.18 million on a 10.8-percent increase in sales to $222.7 million.
The company did not break out the results of its Oliver Rubber Co. subsidiary, but said the Oakland, Calif.-based supplier of tread rubber and retreading equipment experienced flat sales, ``but earnings were off substantially due to a shift in product mix and higher manufacturing costs.''
For the nine months, Standard Products' net income leapt by two-thirds to $19.2 million as sales climbed 15.8 percent to $622.7 million.
Cleveland-based Sudbury Inc., parent company of Iowa Mold Tooling Co., a maker of tire truck service bodies, saw net income dive $2.65 million into the red-a result, ironically, of a special charge related to its improved performance since emerging from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September 1992.
For meeting certain performance targets specified in his employment contract, company Chairman, President and CEO Jacques Sardas received a special payment of $5.96 million.
Without the special charge, the company's operating income more than doubled to $3.26 million. Sudbury lost $205,000 in the 1993 quarter.
Sales for the quarter advanced 11.9 percent to $60.8 million.
For the nine months, Sudbury earned $1.66 million on sales of $176.1 million. There were no comparable results for 1993.
TBC Corp., a major marketer and distributor of private label tires and automotive products, reported record sales and earnings for the first quarter.
Earnings for the period increased 1.3 percent to $5.09 million on a 6.5-percent improvement in sales to $133.8 million.
Chairman and CEO Marvin E. Bruce said TBC's unit shipments of tires jumped 13.3 percent, compared with the 1993 quarter.